Sunday, 24 November 2019

Between Olimpotic Merisemases and a Rubber Stamp Assembly

In the past few days, a ceaseless stream of invectives and vituperation has been thrown at the Governor, His Excellency, Sir Benedict Ayade (KSJi) following the humongous budget figures with its attendant jaw breaking title presented before the State House of Assembly.

To be fair to our digital Excellency, he is the head of one of the three arms of government. What is the role of the other constitutionally recognized arms? Granted that the executive is and has always been a behemoth, there is need to also shift attention to the legislature whose responsibility is to thoroughly scrutinize the budget before passing it into law.

Over the years, CRS House of Assembly has been roundly dismissed as a rubber stamp Assembly largely because its leadership dances too easily to the  whims and caprices of the executive. Although, the current Assembly presents a posture that suggests a departure from the conventional 'oga boys', the current budget before them will serve as a major litmus test of their 'independence'. In other words, they have an opportunity to either do a thorough scrutiny of the budget by insisting and ensuring that it reflects current realities in our state or they simply diminish their fledgling reputation as a rebranded Assembly by endorsing the impracticable piece of paper called budget.

The need for the Assembly to do a thorough job on the budget also stems from the fact that this budget is the handiwork of a negligible few individuals, perhaps lacking the requisite insight, foresight and hindsight in budgeting since it was done without the input of the State Executive Council. 

On the strength of the foregoing, we call on the general public to ventilate a new searchlight on Members of the House of Assembly by urging them not to approve this budget hook, line and sinker as it has been the tradition. We equally urge the House to convoke a robust and painstaking public hearing to allow citizens make their input in the budget. This will ensure citizens participation in governance, ensure transparency as well as boost people's confidence in our democratic process.

God bless Cross River State.

Comrade Anthony Bissong Attah
Convener, Coalition of CRS Civil Society Organizations.